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AbilityOne History

The AbilityOne Program is one of the largest sources of employment in the United States for people who are blind or have significant disabilities. Approximately 500 nonprofit organizations employ these individuals and provide quality products and services to the Federal Government at a fair market price. 

The Program is administered by the U.S. AbilityOne Commission, an independent Federal agency, with assistance from National Industries for the Blind (NIB), SourceAmerica, and American Foundation for the Blind (AFB).

Who Works with AbilityOne

The mission of the AbilityOne Program is first and foremost to provide employment opportunities for people who are blind or have significant disabilities. The program also serves Federal customers by providing them with high quality products and services, delivered on time and at a reasonable price. The American taxpayer also benefits from reduced disability payments made to people with significant disabilities and the increased tax revenues their employment generates. The U.S. AbilityOne Commission has designated three central nonprofit agencies (Authorized Enterprises) to help administer the program – National Industries for the Blind (NIB)SourceAmerica and the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB). AFB’s CNA work is currently in a research phase.

Strategic Alliances

The AbilityOne Program continues to establish and expand key strategic partnerships with government and industry organizations. Strategic partnerships help in the effort to make the AbilityOne Program more widely known, increasing awareness and education in both public and private sector enterprises. Furthermore, these partnerships will strengthen the Commission's ability to reduce the unacceptably high percentage (70%) of Americans with disabilities who do not have jobs.

Veterans and Wounded Warriors

AbilityOne Makes Concerted Efforts to Support Wounded Warriors

The Commission, NIB and SourceAmerica® are dedicated to a variety of programs that reach out to veterans with disabilities and connect them with local NPAs and other resources. NIB collaborates with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and connects veterans with job training, job placement and other career development services offered through its associated NPAs across the country. NIB's Wounded Warrior Program offers critical training in areas such as contract management support, business management training, leadership training and fellowship programs. NIB also participates in job fairs, special events and conventions on a national scale.

The SourceAmerica Institute for Economic Empowerment conducted a two-year research project with the National Organization on Disability that involves interviewing veterans with Veterans Programs disabilities, employers and family members to establish employment interests and skill levels. Additionally, SourceAmerica partners with Military Wounded Warrior Programs, VA and other organizations to assist veterans.

AbilityOne Provides Life-Changing Opportunities for Returning Veterans

The sacrifices made by America's brave fighting men and women often involve serious injuries. Veterans with newly acquired disabilities may face enormous psychological and economic challenges upon re-entering civilian life. These challenges are often compounded by the misperceptions held by some potential employers and members of the public.

Change happened for David Kendrick, who participated in the Warrior SALUTE Program, offered by Continuing Developmental Services (CDS), an AbilityOne® NPA in Webster, N.Y. He was on the verge of being homeless due to his unemployment and service-connected disability when he joined CDS. Expressing his gratitude, he explained, "The CDS program gave me a second chance because I thought nobody cared about soldiers out there. It was really hard, and I searched everywhere, and nobody wanted to give me a hand. Without the CDS program, I would be out there on the street."

In addition to providing vocational assessments, employment training and placement assistance, CDS provides individual, family and group counseling; fully accessible fitness centers and an aquatic center for therapeutic recreation, art and music therapy; temporary housing; and a variety of family-support services.

Quality Work Environment

The Quality Work Environment Initiative is a collaborative effort with the Commission, NIB and SourceAmerica®. The initiative will enable AbilityOne® nonprofit agencies (NPAs) to strengthen their commitment to enhance daily work experiences and develop future growth opportunities for persons who are blind or have significant disabilities.

AbilityOne is Green

The AbilityOne® Program understands the problems faced by Federal contracting and acquisition professionals, as well as purchase card holders, when dealing with what appear to be conflicting mandatory purchasing requirements. While AbilityOne is a mandatory source of supply, there are also legal mandates to purchase recycled content products under the Resources Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) section 6002, and other environmentally preferable and biobased requirements spelled out in Executive Order (EO) 13423, Strengthening Federal Environmental, Energy, and Transportation Management.

Instead of being an obstacle to effective environmental procurement, AbilityOne decided to become a solution. In so doing, the AbilityOne Program embarked on a number of initiatives designed to ensure that, to the highest degree possible, AbilityOne products and services are our customers' choice when it comes to meeting the environmentally desirable criteria, qualities and attributes they demand. For the AbilityOne Program, the Federal environmental initiative is yet another vehicle to create and maintain jobs for individuals who are blind or have severe disabilities. In supporting green initiatives, AbilityOne-participating nonprofit agencies and their employees play a key role in helping the government accomplish its mission of creating cleaner, healthier, safer workplaces for Federal employees and contractors. It makes good sense, good business and good government.


Full compliance with the AbilityOne® Program requirements is expected of every participating organization.

  • The AbilityOne Program is fair and transparent in its actions.

  • Participating nonprofit agencies are expected to achieve full compliance with all statutory and regulatory requirements set forth in the Javits-Wagner-O'Day Act.

  • All Program participants are expected to conduct all business ethically and lawfully.

  • AbilityOne partners are qualified to compete for government contracts and provide goods and services that are federally approved and registered.

- Sourced from AbilityOne.gov

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